#21 Bulldog Tennis Ousts #30 Ole Miss, 5-2; #4 Seed At SEC Tourney
STARKVILLE, Miss. – In front of a standing room-only crowd at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre Saturday afternoon, Mississippi State’s 21st-ranked men’s tennis team completed the 2011 regular season emphatically, downing 30th-ranked arch rival Ole Miss 5-2.
With the win, State improved to 13-7 overall and concluded the Southeastern Conference regular season at 8-3 in the league, winning the Western Division outright by going a perfect 5-0 against the division this season. On a major roll of late, the Bulldogs have now won eight of their last 10 contests.
With the loss, the Rebels fell to 11-8, 5-6 in SEC play.
State will now turn its attention to the 2011 SEC Championship, to be held April 21-24 in Gainesville, Fla. With Saturday’s win, MSU earned the #4 seed in the tournament, the team’s highest since being the #3 seed in 1998. The Bulldogs, who receive a first-round bye on Thursday, w ill face the winner of fifth-seeded host Florida (ranked 16th) and 12th-seeded Arkansas next Friday, April 22, at 3 p.m. ET at Florida’s Ring Tennis Complex.
“I am extremely proud of our guys’ effort today, including our three first-year players James, Malte and Zach providing the three points early in singles to clinch the match,” MSU head coach Per Nilsson said. “Everyone really showed up and focused to win this huge match against our rival and we proved, without a doubt, that we are the Western Division champions. We’re going to enjoy this for a little while and then turn our attention to more important business at the SEC Tournament next week.”
State got the opening doubles point Saturday in a classic battle. After the teams had traded 8-3 wins at the No. 2 and 3 positions (36th-ranked Bulldogs George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin won at No. 2), all eyes turned to the top spot. With ninth-ranked Rebels Chris and Marcel Theimann leading 7-5, State’s 53rd-ranked duo of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp roared back to win the next four games and claim an exciting 9-7 victory to put MSU up 1-0 in the contest.
The Bulldogs carried their momentum from doubles into singles, winning the first set at all six singles positions to set up the team victory. Giving MSU a 2-0 advantage was James Chaudry with a 6-1, 6-2 triumph at the No. 3 singles position over UM’s Kalle Norberg.
Two MSU freshmen would then complete the victory for the Bulldogs, finishing within minutes of each other. Rookie Zach White put State up 3-0 by finishing off a 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 6 over Rebel Skogeng. The match clincher would then come from the newcomer Stropp, who won his 10th-straight match with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Ole Miss’ Jonas Lutjen at the No. 4 spot.
The last three matches on court would all split sets and be determined in third set super-tiebreakers.
The teams completed play on courts 1 and 2 almost simultaneously. The Rebels grabbed their first point of the day at No. 2 where 98th-ranked Tucker Vorster upended MSU’s 55th-ranked Coupland 3-6, 6-4, 1-0(6) in a tough battle. State’s 66th-ranked Ilyushin then claimed a similar affair 6-4, 3-6, 1-0(8), upsetting 36th-ranked Rebel Marcel Theimann at the top spot in the lineup.
The last point of the afternoon went to Ole Miss, with Chris Theimann outlasting State’s 76th-ranked Cant at the No. 5 spot 4-6, 7-6(4), 1-0(5), halting Cant’s impressive win streak at nine matches.
#21 MISSISSIPPI STATE
5, #30 OLE MISS 2
April 16, 2011 – Starkville, Miss.
DOUBLES – #53 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) def.
#9 Christoph Theimann/Marcel Theimann (UM) 9-7; #36 George
Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) def. Johan Backstrom/Adrian Skogeng (UM) 8-3; Kalle
Norberg/Tucker Vorster (UM) def. James Chaudry/Zach White (MSU).
Order of finish: 2,3,1.
SINGLES –#66 Ilyushin (MSU) def. #36 M. Theimann (UM) 6-4,
3-6, 1-0(8); #98 Vorster (UM) def. #55 Coupland (MSU) 4-6, 6-3, 1-0(6); Chaudry
(MSU) def. Norberg (UM) 6-1, 6-2; #89 Stropp (MSU) def. Jonas Lutjen (UM) 7-5,
6-2; C. Theimann (UM) def. #76 Cant (MSU) 4-6, 7-6(4), 1-0(5); White (MSU) def.
Skogeng (UM) 6-4, 6-2.
Order of finish: 3,6,4,2,1,5.